Understanding the Differences Between Food Processors vs. Blenders

Understanding the Differences Between Food Processors vs. Blenders

Food processors and blenders are important parts of a food preparation section in a restaurant kitchen. While on one hand blenders allow for easier and more efficient emulsification and liquefaction, food processors are versatile and come with a number of functionalities that include liquefaction, slicing, grating, shredding, dicing, and more. Though a lot of business owners and their staff might use food processors and blenders interchangeably in several applications, both of these appliances are better suited for specific, well-defined tasks. 

Understanding the differences between food processors vs. blenders will allow you to use your appliances better and deploy them in tasks where they can perform their best. Knowing the food processor vs. blender differences also ensures you or your staff don’t damage these machines by utilizing them for tasks they’re not built for. This information might also be useful for business owners that are confused about what machine is right for their establishment. Read on as we discuss the various differences between food processors vs. blenders. 

What is a Food Processor?

Though they might be in use in nearly every kitchen, the role of these machines in the kitchen can be misunderstood. So, what is a food processor after all? A food processor is one of the most intuitive and ingenious appliances in the kitchen. It is often the workhorse of several commercial kitchens and is useful for a variety of purposes. Whether it’s chopping, mixing, pureeing, kneading dough, or breaking up large lumps of food into smaller crumbs, the food processor can do it all. Since both blenders and food processors are both capable of liquefying ingredients, is a food processor the same as a blender? Not quite. Despite the versatility of the food processor, its wide base does not allow for the preparation of smooth textured emulsified fluids. The body of a food processor contains a motor within, and the controls at its base. 

juicer vs blender vs food processor

Often made of hard plastic and sometimes a hybrid material, food processors come with a variety of jars and attachments. The various discs and blades are used for different functions. Jars of food processors are wide and allow for steady incorporation of the food material as the machine functions. Lids of food processors come with a feed chute that allows you to drop in the food material incrementally. You can then manage the material placed in the chute while the blade does the chopping. Their wide base makes them particularly adept at handling dry ingredients as opposed to wet components, in case you were wondering whether you should use a blender or food processor for such material. The partially wet or emulsified material can get stuck on the sides of the jars and often remain out of reach for the wide-set blade as there’s no vortex effect in play, unlike the narrow and fast-spinning blender blade. Since food processors have large blades, they function effectively even if you fill them right up to the brim of the jar, unlike blenders that don’t function as effectively with full jars - an important food processor vs. blender difference. The removable blades of food processors also make them easy to maintain and clean. 

All attachments of the food processor are attached to a drive pin at the bottom. The drive pin allows the disc insert to sit on it stably, while the blades are balanced higher up in the jar, allowing the rest of the space to be used for the processed food. One of the biggest advantages of food processors is that you’re free to add ingredients to the mix even while the machine is in operation - a key difference between a high-speed blender vs. a food processor.

What is a Blender?

Similar to the food processor, the blender houses a powerful motor in its plastic or hybrid body, with the speed and power controls at its base. The food processor vs. blender difference is marked by the primary function of the blender, which is to emulsify foods by either combining liquids, solids & liquids, or semi-solids & liquids to create a homogenous mixture. Blender jars are conical in shape, being narrower at the bottom to enable the creation of a vortex that helps the system incorporate the ingredients better and feed them to the blades that can break them down. The blade often sits at the bottom of the pitcher and can be removed to facilitate proper cleaning of the unit. The blade often has points that are placed at different angles, making the process of blending thorough. Whether it’s crushing ice, cutting up fruits & nuts, or just mixing two liquids that do not usually combine, the blender can get it done with ease. The homogeneity of the mixture is an important factor that sets the standard for the difference between a high-speed blender and a food processor. 

The lid, lined with a gasket, fits perfectly over the top of the pitcher, creating an air-tight seal to prevent leaking and spillage during the blending process. Blenders are the go-to appliance for smoothies, fruit juices, soups, and even certain varieties of sauces and whipped cream. An important difference between the blender vs. food processor is the lack of different blades. Most varieties come with just one type of blade or a couple of extras. This limits the functionality of the blender to predominantly liquid-based food processing, whereas the food processor is far more eclectic in its range of functions in the restaurant. 

what is a food processor

There also exist varieties of blender models that can be deployed based on the utility of these devices. Hand blenders or immersion blenders are portable, and contain a small set of blades at the bottom of the stalk of the device, allowing you to blend in any container you have. These devices can be used in a variety of utensils to liquefy foods, as opposed to the exclusive jar-based setup of devices like food processors - an essential distinction between a hand blender vs. a food processor. Conversely, personal blenders are more compact and also portable, allowing the user to fix a blade at the bottom of a compact jar/ pitcher and allowing them to drink the final product straight out of the pitcher due to the manageable size of the appliance. 

The Core Difference Between Food Processors vs. Blenders

  • While blenders are useful in making homogenous mixtures by crushing solid and liquid components with their powerful blades, food processors are deployed by restaurateurs for several functionalities. Food processors have several discs and blades as opposed to either a fixed blade system or just a small set of single-function blades in blenders.
  • Despite food processors being more than capable of pureeing and liquefying foods, blenders are more suited to this task as they can bring about a silky smooth texture in the emulsions they prepare. 
  • Keeping in mind that there are differences between the features of food processors vs. blenders, the former is better suited to a variety of tasks like mincing meat, dicing vegetables, kneading dough, and breading vegetables like cauliflower & broccoli, slicing meat or potatoes, and grating cheese. 
  • Food processors can also be adept at preparing viscous sauces as they do not have the high-speed vortex mechanism in their system like in blenders. The wide working jars and bowls do not concentrate the speed of the blade in a narrow and concentrated space unlike a blender, which is why food processors are proficient at breaking up large lumps of food like cheese into smaller particles. 
  • Food processors are also capable of handling larger quantities of food due to the space offered by their large bowls, enhancing their capacity to process food in a batch-wise manner. Blenders, on the other hand, have narrow jars with pouring lips since their operation is primarily focused on creating a liquefied product. Both appliances are made to be leak-resistant to help their users avoid creating a mess while liquefying or dicing food. 

food processor vs blender

Food Processor vs. Blender: When to Use Them in the Kitchen

Now that you have an understanding of the differences between food processors vs. blenders in their functions, utility, and in the basic principles that govern them, it’s important to know when to use these machines in the kitchen. Food processor vs. blender differences, while plenty, can still confuse some business owners, often leading to questions such as “Can you use a blender instead of a food processor?”. Understanding what works best for each task will also help you purchase the right equipment for your establishment. While coffee shops and juice bars will benefit from having a highly-rated blender, full-service restaurants will do well to own a competent and reliable food processor for their versatile requirements in the food preparation area. Here’s a table to help you identify the areas where food processors and blenders perform better over the others. 

Attribute/Function/Recipe

Food Processor Blender
Fixed blade
Multiple blades & discs
Wide-base jar
Narrow jar with pouring lip
Liquefaction
Slicing, Powdering, Grating & Chopping
Crushing Ice
Soup
Dressing
Nut butters
Dough
Minced Meat
Sliced Veggies
Shredded/ Grated Cheese
Smoothie

The above table illustrates the utilities of the food processor vs. blender. Applying this information in the kitchen can enable you and your workers to make informed decisions about both types of equipment and put them to use. Ensure you invest in high-quality equipment to make the best of your investment in commercial kitchen tools for your establishment.